Pinon Hills Elementary School granted Blue Ribbon award |

Pinon Hills Elementary School granted Blue Ribbon award

by Rachel Spacek
Nevada State Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Steve Canavero high fives Pinion students as they leave the library Thursday in Minden.
Brad Coman |

Piñon Hills Elementary School became the first school in the Douglas County School District since 1996 to be granted a National Blue Ribbon Award by the U.S. Department of Education. The announcement came Thursday as the school’s students, dressed in matching tie-dye shirts, staff and district administrators all gathered in the school’s library to hear the news from Washington, D.C.

Piñon Hills Principal Jason Reid said he owed so much of the award to his staff and all their hard work.

“All educators have a very difficult job in our society, so it is again one more validation and piece of incentive or recognition to pat themselves on the back,” said Reid. “All that hard work and hours really does pay off.”

The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has been recognizing American public and private elementary schools based on their overall academic achievement since 1982. The program takes into account overall academic excellence and school’s success in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.

“The National Blue Ribbon School award affirms the hard work of students, educators, families and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging content,” said the U.S. Department of Education on their website.

During the announcement, Reid thanked all of the staff who helped with the school’s application

“I’m proud of our staff, I think they’ve worked super hard and worked super smart to meet the needs of every kid tirelessly,” Reid said. “My pride is in my staff and the work that they do.”

To be nominated for the award, schools must meet one of two requirements. The school must be an “exemplary high performing school,” which means they are in the top 15 percent of schools in the state. The second requirement is that the schools are “exemplary achievement gap closing schools,” meaning they are in the top 15 percent for each of the school’s subgroups, determined by the school’s rank on its progress in closing the gap in the performance of subgroups over the last five years.

Douglas County School District Superintendent Teri White said she was thrilled when Piñon was nominated for the award and was even more excited when she found out they had won.

“Its huge for our district, it is a national honor for the state of Nevada,” White said. “It is exciting to know that our school is among the top performing schools in the country. It is just a tribute to the hard work our teachers and students do everyday.”

White had tears in her eyes when she explained how teaching is often a thankless job and it means so much that the teachers at Piñon have been recognized for their work.

“Teachers go into their classrooms every day, and they spend a lot of time and hard work preparing lessons, working with students and students don’t understand why it is important to learn the things they learn,” White said. “They do that day in and day out and they don’t always get the recognition for what they do and many times it’s not until years down the road when students come back and say, ‘I remember when you taught me this or that.’ So to have a national honor for their hard work means a lot. It is a thankless job that often happens behind closed doors so it is a great way to tribute the great work they do with our students everyday.”

Piñon Hills joins more than 7,500 schools across the country, who are presented with the award every year and only three other schools in the district who have won the award. Meneley and Scarselli elementary schools won the award in 1996 and Gardnerville Elementary School won in 1985.